2018 Annual Report: A Year in Review

ECMHSP is excited to announce the release of our 2018 Annual Report, which unveiled our new logo and brand identity.  The report showcases the great success ECMHSP experienced in providing comprehensive and high-quality services to farmworker families along the East Coast.

2018 Annual Report

Cover of the ECMHSP 2018 Annual Report

Some of the highlights from this year’s report include:

  • An overview of how our Practice Based Coaching (PBC) process is strengthening our teachers in the classroom
  • Total number of children and families served
  • Our best practices when it comes to family engagement
  • The details of our new Strategic Plan

Each year, ECMHSP releases its annual report, pursuant to requirements in the Head Start Act.  The report includes information on funding sources, results of the most recent financial audit, and other information required by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

You can view the full 2018 Annual Report and past annual reports on our website: http://www.ecmhsp.org/reports.html

ECMHSP thanks our staff for their wonderful work and Head Start parents for their participation throughout the year.  We also thank the countless people involved to make sure our annual report was finished on time.  The hard work, love, and dedication is felt every day at our Head Start centers and is reflected in this report.

Driving Children to Success

Christina Arnold Pic

Christina Arnold has been a part of East Coast Migrant Head Start Project since May of 2017.  I recently had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with her.  Keep reading to learn more about why she’s such a key team member for ECMHSP.

Can you please tell me a little bit about your story at East Coast Migrant Head   Start Project?

I had spent seven months as a substitute bus driver for the Hamilton County School District in Florida. One day during our regular morning meeting, we were told that East Coast Migrant Head Start Project was looking to hire bus drivers.  This information had been shared by ECMHSP’s Transportation Manager, Charles Leach.  The opening was for the ECMHSP Jennings Center, conveniently located seven miles away from my house.  At the time, I thought working there between May and October would be perfect, and then I would go back to the Hamilton County School District.  My hire date at ECMHSP was May 5, 2017.  Prior to officially starting, I got sent to two different areas of South Carolina to get training.  I had never traveled outside of Florida.  The mandatory training before becoming a bus driver for ECMHSP was 40 hours.  I also received three days of bus monitor training.  I was away from home for about a week and a half.  ECMHSP took great care of me during this time.

What did you enjoy the most about the training you received?

Although it’s a long process, the yearly training sharpens you.  I really liked that ECMHSP focused on safety being their number one priority.  The training showed that you need to step it up.

What happened after the season ended at the ECMHSP Jennings Center?

Once the season finished, I was offered to work at the ECMHSP Okeechobee Center I and II between November and May of 2018.  I already knew how everything worked and really enjoyed being here.  However, Okeechobee was more than five hours away from my home, so I had to talk to my kids before accepting.  As a child, my son, Richard Jr. learned to read using a Bass Pro magazine, and one of his dreams had always been to go fishing at Lake Okeechobee.  The possibility of being able to take my family fishing made us very excited.  After receiving my family’s support, I left for Okeechobee.  At the end of December 2017, I was able to make my son’s dream come true.  We caught over 40 fish during our trip!

Christina Arnold - fishing trip

Making the dream come true at Lake Okeechobee!

How did going to Okeechobee change you?

Traveling to Okeechobee gave me financial stability. I had the chance to save up money to pay bills that I had pending.  I’m glad I was able to help out other centers provide transportation services to the families.

Is it hard to leave your community behind in Jennings?

The hardest part is not being as involved with my own kids.  I drive back home one weekend a month.  While I’m away, my sister is a big help with Richard Jr., my 17-year-old son.  He’s a junior in high school and works part-time.  My daughter Chasity, 21, is currently doing basic training for the Army in Oklahoma.  She wants to pursue a career in the medical field, so she signed up to be a combat medic.  My daughter received special permission from the Army to go home for Christmas.  She’ll graduate from basic training in January.

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Left to right: Chasity (21), Richard Jr. (17), and Christina.

What do you like the most about driving for ECMHSP?

I enjoy the interaction with the kids.  I enjoy seeing them happy every morning.  It’s just a joy in my heart to see the kids growing and learning in a safe environment.

What’s a typical day for you?

I usually start my pre-trip inspection around 4 a.m. There are more than 140 items that I have on my checklist. My first pick up is around 5:20 a.m., then I arrive at the center around 6:30 a.m.  After the kids are safely at the center, I finish the paperwork I must submit.  For example, the seating chart and attendance.  Then, the post-trip inspection begins, and we clean and sanitize the bus interior to get it ready for the afternoon.  Around 4:30 p.m., I complete another pre-trip inspection.  We start loading the bus around 5:20 p.m.

Christina at Okeechobee II

Christina Arnold always has a smile on her face.

Can you share a little bit about how you work with other staff on the bus to make sure children arrive safely at the center?

We’re constantly communicating to make sure the kids are being transported safely.  On the way to our Head Start center, the bus monitors entertain the children by singing with them.  When the last child is escorted off the bus, the bus monitors inspect the bus to make sure no child gets left behind.  They also report any incidents that occur while the children are on the bus.

Is there anything else you would like our ECMHSP community to know about          driving a school bus for us?

It means a lot.  It’s been a great experience, and I look forward to a long future here.

Christina A.

Christina gets ready for her pre-trip inspection.

Thank you for taking the time to let me interview you, Christina. You go above and beyond to make sure our children arrive safely at our centers in Florida.  Without you, we know many of our little ones would not have a safe way to reach our Head Start centers in Florida.  As you get ready to start your bus driver responsibilities at our ECMHSP Fort Pierce Center, we wish you a great season!

Advocating for Early Childhood Education at the National Level

Daniel Jaime's Family Pic

Daniel Jaime’s childhood memories always take him back to the fields.  He was the youngest of five boys.  His mother was a single mother, who despite facing many obstacles as a migrant farmworker, always stressed the importance of getting an education.  Check out my recent phone interview with Daniel.

Could you tell me a little bit about your background?

I was born in Winter Haven, a city in Polk County, Florida.  I was part of a migrant farmworker family.  I recall spending seasons in North Carolina, Georgia, and Michigan.  At the age of 19, I started my own family.  I enrolled my firstborn in the Head Start Program offered through Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in 2002.  My second and third child also attended RCMA.  As a migrant farmworker parent, I was very involved in my children’s education.  I was elected as the center’s President of the Parent Committee.  I also served on the Board of Directors for three full terms.  At the time, RCMA was a delegate agency of East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, and I participated as the Treasurer for its Policy Council.  In 2005, I stopped migrating for work.  RCMA offered me a position as an Outreach Worker in Polk County.  The following season, I became a Center Coordinator for RCMA’S before and after school programs, serving more than 140 children that season alone.  After four years of being at RCMA, I decided to continue my career at the ECMHSP La Familia Center as Center Director in October 2009.

I know you’re currently enrolled in college. Can you tell me more about the degree you’re pursuing?

In 2013, I graduated with my Associate in Science degree from Polk State’s Early Childhood Education and Management program.  Next year I will be getting my Bachelor’s in Business Management from Polk State College.  I want my kids to know how important education is.  I have five kids ranging in the ages of 18 and three.  Two of them will be graduating high school next year and are already looking into what college programs they want to pursue.

La Familia Center - Nov 2018

The ECMHSP La Familia Center opened for the season on Thursday, November 15.

What is the most exciting part of opening the center?

You must have a passion for children and their families.  My greatest thing is working with the ECMHSP La Familia Center staff and getting them ready to provide the best services for our children.  I enjoy seeing staff that start with a high school degree, then obtain a CDA, and work hard to get an Associate Degree.  Although every season includes different obstacles, I’m always hopeful that we’ll have a successful season.  All our staff from last season have returned, which is very exciting.

How do you maintain strong relationships with parents?

Always making our families feel welcomed at our center.  I want them to feel that it’s a good place to be.  I always take the time to present myself to our new families.  I tell them about the policies and procedures that we all follow.

What countries are primarily represented by your center’s farmworker families?

Most of our families are from Guatemala and Mexico.  Last season, we served 11 kids from Puerto Rico that were part of displaced families from Hurricane Maria.  Two kids are back this season.

GFWC Florida at La Familia Center

The GFWC Four Corners Junior Woman’s Club visits our ECMHSP La Familia Center.

What are the center’s community partnerships?

We have community partnerships with Community of Faith, Catholic Charities of Winter Haven, Helping Hands Angels, The Veterans of Davenport, and the GFWC Four Corners Junior Woman’s Club.  During the last few years, the GFWC Four Corners Junior Woman’s Club has been making a holiday donation of more than 100 stockings for the children at my center.  I know our families look forward to their support next month.

Daniel Jaime at NACMH

Daniel Jaime, Center Director at the ECMHSP La Familia Center, recently attended the NACMH biannual meeting on November 14, 2018. 

Daniel Jaime is one of our most active staff members.  Not only does he support other centers with training as needed, but he also serves as a Council Member on the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health (NACMH), which has 16 members nationwide.  He was nominated to the NACMH when he was a Board of Director for the Central Florida Health Care.  Last week, I had the opportunity to meet Daniel in Bethesda, Maryland for NACMH’s biannual meeting.  The Council heard presentations from federal officials and experts on issues facing agricultural workers, including the status of agricultural worker health.  The NACMH will now make its recommendations to the HHS Secretary about the organization, operation, selection, and funding of migrant health centers and other entities funded under section 330(g) of the PHS Act.

Promoting Parent Engagement at East Coast

GLORIA BLOG PICFor more than 40 years, ECMHSP has offered high-quality and comprehensive Head Start services to farmworker families.  We have created a strong partnership with the parents of the children enrolled at our centers, and through their dedicated service and leadership, we are able to design a program that meets the unique needs of the farmworker families in our communities.

One such dedicated parent is Gloria Castillo, who has been an ECMHSP parent for five seasons.  She was born in Queretaro, Mexico, and has lived in the United States since 2005.  Gloria has almost 10 years of experience working in the fields.  She’s proud to say that three of her four kids have had the opportunity to attend the ECMHSP Faison Center in North Carolina.

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Gloria visits the ECMHSP Faison Center and meets Dr. Bergeron, Director of the Office of Head Start.

When we asked Gloria what the most important service that ECMHSP has offered her family, she says, “Health services is the greatest blessing from this program.  The ECMHSP staff is always on top of all vaccinations and routine exams.”  Two years ago, her daughter Leslie was thoroughly evaluated by the ECMHSP staff that focuses on disabilities.  They diagnosed Leslie with a speech impairment and immediately helped set up weekly therapy sessions.  Today, Leslie is doing much better and is a stronger communicator.

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Gloria Castillo’s greatest treasures!

Gloria has been challenged to grow in ways she never thought possible.  She’s currently serving as the ECMHSP Faison Center’s President of the Parent Committee, an honor that she’s had for two consecutive years.  Her responsibilities include coordinating monthly parent meetings and attending training with the help of the center’s director.  Since she’s done such a great job leading the Parent Committee, she was also elected to be a part of the ECMHSP Policy Council since August 2017.  In the near future, Gloria hopes to start ESL classes that are offered by ECMHSP’s community partners.

While we proudly serve the needs of farmworker families across seven states, we recognize all that we benefit from their service as well.  We thank Gloria for being one of our superstar parents!

A Safe Haven for Farmworker Families

Photo 4-A child playing outside in sand box

The ECMHSP Hendersonville Head Start Center opened on Monday, June 25.  Mayra Lozano, Family Services Coordinator, was one of the most eager staff members receiving our farmworker families on the first day of the season.  About 20 children showed up ready to learn.

Photo 5-Aparent picking up her children

An ECMHSP parent is excited to pick up her children.

The ECMHSP Hendersonville Center is unique because it’s located in Western North Carolina.  The county is known as the Apple County because it’s surrounded by apple orchards.  Besides harvesting apples, this center’s families also work with tomatoes, corn, strawberries, bell peppers, and squash.  They also work pack a variety of produce and at nurseries.

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Mayra Lozano, Family Services Coordinator, reading to the children at the Hendersonville Center.

Mayra has been part of the ECMHSP family since 2017.  However, her experience at Telamon started in 2012, so she brings our organization plenty of experience.  She knows first-hand how much farmworker families sacrifice.  Although Mayra was only nine-years-old at the time, she recalls the day her dad fell off the ladder while picking oranges in Florida.  The consequences would be life-changing because her dad broke two discs in his spinal cord.  Seeing that her dad lost his ability to walk due to this accident shaped the rest of her life.  Mayra knows that many farmworker families would struggle without the services that ECMHSP provide, so she always goes out of her way to give her very best.  She knows how important it is to provide farmworkers’ kids a safe haven for learning while their parents are doing back-breaking labor in the fields.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia Gets a Head Start

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Currently, Jose Enriquez is the Family Services Coordinator at the ECMHSP Parksley Center.  The ECMHSP Parksley Head Start Center is special because it’s ECMHSP’s only center that serves two states, which are Virginia and Maryland.  Work done by our farmworker families in the Eastern Shore include: the production and harvesting of tree crops, field crops, nursery crops, eggs, poultry, fish, seafood, and the care of farm animals.

Jose was born in Veracruz, Mexico.  At the age of 13, he settled with his parents in Virginia.  From a very young age, he saw how hard both of his parents worked in the tomato fields for over five years, so he decided to make them proud.  His excellent grades allowed him to finish high school as the sixth best ranking student.  He always knew that he would pursue a career that gave back to his community.  Now, as a part of the ECMHSP family, he makes a difference every day.

Parksley Center

Making new friendships during the first day of the season!

Jose has lived in the Virginia Eastern Shore area since he was a child, so families rely on him for crucial information about services.  “From the enrollment process, we are the face of the center.  If we don’t give a good impression, then parents won’t trust us,” says Jose.  The ECMHSP Parksley Center opened on Tuesday with 19 children.  Jose shares that families need Head Start services to be extended for additional weeks.  Currently, this center operates between June and November.  However, when the center closes, farmworker families struggle to find a place that provides similar services for their children.  Jose is determined to increase enrollment of farmworker families and hopefully extend the center’s season.

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The children enjoy the nutritious meals provided by our amazing ECMHSP staff.

Jose points out that one of their most important partnerships is with the Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc.  These clinics have outreach workers that provide assistance to families and even help transport them to their doctor’s appointments.  They are constantly in contact with the families and are very responsive to the farmworker community.

When farmworker families migrate to Maryland and Virginia’s Eastern Shore, they know they can count on the Parksley Center to provide them with the lifeline into the community to meet their families’ needs.  Jose, along with the Parksley Center staff are committed to making a difference, one smiling child at a time.

Farmworker Mom a Leader and Dreamer at ECMHSP

Meiby in the fields

Migrant farmworker Meiby Mora Soto is both a leader and a Dreamer at East Coast Migrant Head Start Project.  The 29-year-old mother of one has served as the president of ECMHSP’s Policy Council since her election to office by her peers in August 2017.

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Meiby Mora attends the 2017 National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association Public Policy Forum and Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Mora Soto was brought to the United States of America from Mexico at the age of 14 in November 2003.  She attended high school in Bradenton, Florida, for 18 months, but then dropped out and began working a variety of jobs in and around Bradenton.

Beginning in 2010, she found her most steady employment as a migrant farmworker.  She has picked tomatoes in her current hometown of Immokalee, Florida, and has traveled up the East Coast to the low country of South Carolina.  She then travels to the Virginia Eastern Shore to live in a labor camp and work in the fields from July through November.

Meiby and Jovani

Meiby and her son, Jovani.

ECMHSP has taught Jovani the necessary skills to be successful in school.  Meiby tells us that Jovani can easily make friends anywhere he goes.  He’s a healthy and happy five-year-old boy – living proof of ECMHSP’s success.

In addition to being a leader, Meiby is a Dreamer.  In 2015, ECMHSP offered Meiby pro bono immigration services to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  After multiple immigration lawyers had given her no hope of becoming a DACA recipient, staff at ECMHSP worked tirelessly to help Meiby.  Nine months after her application was filed with USCIS, her DACA dream came true.

“ECMHSP not only gave me a safe haven for Jovani while I was at work, they have given me the opportunity to become an advocate for migrant farmworkers,” Meiby says.  “They have shown me that my voice counts.”